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Kenya's Eunice Sum promises to bow out with honours at the Olympic Games

ATHLETICS By Stephen Rutto | July 17th 2021
Eunice Sum of Kenya reacts after after placing third in the women's 800m event during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China August 29, 2015. [REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson]

Barely two weeks after taking over from Olympic javelin silver medalist Julius Yego as Team Kenya captain, Eunice Sum ready is to steer the country’s squad to Tokyo.

The 2013 world 800m champion is excited at the prospect of making a return to the Olympics as she gears to represent Kenya in the two-lap event.

Apart from being the captain and the onus of bringing home a medal in the 800m, Tokyo will be historic for Sum.

The 33-year-old athlete will run her last Olympic race, she hinted.

An elusive Olympic gold medal in the women’s 800m is a matter of concern for Sum.

Even as the decorated track star braces to exit the stage, her biggest assignment would be to rally her compatriots; Mary Moraa and Emily Tuei in a mission to regain glory in 800m and return the event to Kenya’s grip.

The 2014 Commonwealth champion says she will seek to qualify for the finals at the Tokyo Games.

(L-R) Silver medallist Scotland's Lynsey Sharp, Gold medallist Kenya's Eunice Jepkoech Sum and Bronze medallist Uganda's Winnie Nanyondo pose on the podium during the award ceremony for the women's 800m athletics event at Hampden Park during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland on August 1, 2014. [AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC]

She describes 800m as a tactical race and commits to handle each step of her training at a time ahead of the global event that begins next week.

“This is a tactical race and my target is to qualify for the finals in the Olympics and from there, we can plot how to bring the medal home,” Sum said.

With the delayed Games set to be held amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Sum is nonetheless eager for the challenge.

“Training for the Olympics has been a challenge, especially training alone during this Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.

She said the Tokyo Olympics will be open with notable names like defending champion Caster Semenya missing.

“We will have a tough competition as Team Kenya, as this Olympics has a new and a younger generation of athletes,” she said.

Meanwhile, athletes should not make “political demonstrations” or express their private views on the medal podium at the Tokyo Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said yesterday.

The IOC this month relaxed its Rule 50, which had previously forbidden athletes from any protests but now allows them to make gestures on the field, provided they do so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors.

However, there is still a threat of sanctions if any protests are made on the medal podium during the July 23-Aug. 8 Games.

“The podium and the medal ceremonies are not made  . . . for a political or other demonstration,” Bach told the Financial Times.

“They are made to honour the athletes and the medal winners for sporting achievement and not for their private (views).

Eunice Sum during her training session at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani on August 1, 2015. [PHOTO/DENNIS OKEYO]

“The mission is to have the entire world together at one place and competing peacefully with each other.”

While athlete protests at the Olympics are rare, at the 1968 Mexico City Games, Black US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos were expelled after they bowed their heads and raised black-gloved fists to protest racial inequality.

At Rio 2016, Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa raised his arms and crossed his wrists to show support for his Oromo tribe’s protests over government plans to reallocate farmland.

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